Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Don’t Know Whatcha Got Till It’s Gone

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there's no place like home

It’s funny how we develop emotional attachments to nonliving things. I’m a bit on the sentimental side, so I have several items I cherish. Last night I discovered a rather odd emotional attachment that I never realized I had. I had fallen in love with my recliner, and I had no clue.

This recliner was old and showing it’s age. It was a light suede, so a thorough cleaning was impossible. A ring remained whenever it got damp, and there were plenty left by my long hair when I plopped down fresh out of the shower. There were also several rings where a snack led to a spill and the spill led to a new ring. The seat and back both had indentations. They weren’t really visible, but you could feel them. You get the picture. The chair had seen better days, and it was unsightly. 

I told my husband I had my eye on a loveseat with dual recliners. When someone nearby decided to sell theirs at a great price, he jumped on it. It’s a lovely dark leather. Each recliner rocks independently. It even has the console with a cubby and cupholders between the recliners. It’s nice. It looks a lot nicer than our mismatched recliners. It looks better with the sofa. We can hold hands in the middle, just like we do in the truck. Yes. We are one of those couples. And, no. We are far from newlyweds.

It’s a nice piece of furniture. It really is. But it’s not my recliner. It’s not. My recliner felt like home. It was my comfort zone. It was where I felt safe. It was my sanctuary. I know it’s usually men who balk at the idea of getting rid of their recliner. I know this. Still, I’m having a hard time letting go. It’s a big adjustment, and I never realized just how hard it would be to change where I sit. It’s hard.

My recliner was much more than a well-worn piece of furniture. The seat and back had molded to me. When I sat down and snuggled into it, it was almost like a warm hug. My recliner was oversized, so I never bothered actually reclining. I had plenty of room to sit with my legs crossed. The back was at the perfect angle. I didn’t need to recline to sit comfortably. I had plenty of space to sit with my laptop in that roomy recliner. The arms were generously padded and I could work in comfort. It was pretty much my home office. I haven’t used a desk in years. I always worked in my chair. 

My beloved recliner was also big enough for two. Well, not quite, but we made it work. A kid was often perched on the arm near the wall as we checked out something online. A lot of conversations took place there. We laughed a lot there. Tater Tot would climb up into my recliner and had plenty of room to stretch out beside me without leaving me uncomfortable. We read plenty of books like that. We took some naps like that. She told me (in baby talk, of course) all about her day like that. There is no room for a kid to sit on the arm and engage in a giggle session. There is no room for Tater Tot to cuddle up beside me, although Pappy did inform me that she had her own seat atop the padded console - right between us. That’s not quite the same. It does rock, but it doesn’t rock quite the same. I don’t have room, nor the right rock, to rock sweet little Tater to sleep.

Now that my recliner is gone and I am stuck in this new piece of furniture, I’m missing my chair. I feel lost. The back doesn’t sit at a comfortable angle, so I have to recline. The recliner doesn’t have the padded footrest like my recliner had, so it’s odd. I’m not heavy enough to keep the stiff back reclined at the right angle, either. I don’t really have room to sit cross-legged comfortably. My laptop has to sit at an awkward angle, and I shudder to think how this is going to affect the pinched nerve in my neck. I had that well taken care of in my recliner. The power cord for my laptop is on the wrong side, too. I’ve spent time whining that I can’t work like this. I have. 

I will readily confess that I do not like change of any sort, but I wasn’t prepared for this. I feel completely out of sorts. I’m sure I will adjust over time. I know I will. But for now, I’m grumpy. How grumpy am I? I’m grumpy enough that I wrote this long post about missing my old recliner. I’ll be fine. I’ll eventually find some way to be half-way comfortable while I work, but it won’t be as comfortable as my recliner. I’ll find a way to make it work for reading to Tater, but it won’t be quite the same. I’ll adjust to it over time, but I won’t be as happy as I was with my comfortable recliner. Right now, I’m feeling homeless. My chair felt like home, and now it’s gone. It has been replaced by this cold reclining loveseat. I feel too confined in this regular-size recliner. I feel...I could go on, but I’m probably starting to sound loony. I mean, all this hoopla over a chair, right? I miss my chair. Maybe Tater will like it.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Breaking news breaks our hearts

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From the moment the general public was informed that little Noah Chamberlin was missing, people began to feel emotionally invested. When the photo of the two-year-old blond child with bright blue eyes appeared on every screen, people felt connected to this beautiful boy.

Noah Chamberlin

As the daylight dwindled that first day, anxiety grew and fear crept in when he wasn’t found right away. In this day and age, with our seemingly limitless technology and resources, how can this be? How can a child simply disappear in the woods without leaving a trace? How can this baby still be missing? Why can’t this child be found right this instant? It hardly seemed right. It certainly wasn’t fair that such a tiny little thing was alone in the woods after dark. I think that is when anger began to appear. 

We all eyed our own children and grandchildren and felt a tremendous pang of sadness that was often expressed with one simple phrase: “I cannot imagine.” Society could not accept that this boy would be spending the night away from home. We couldn’t cope with the thought of this baby being hungry, cold, and lonely. We didn’t know how anyone could cope with their child or grandchild still missing past his bedtime. This isn’t right, and it can’t be happening. Not in this day and age. Not to such a small child. And the anger began to grow. 

None of us could comprehend how this could be happening. None of us wanted to accept the news that a small child was spending the night curled up in the dark woods, away from his mother and without his supper. None of us wanted to imagine any of this, because this isn’t supposed to happen. The world has changed so much during our lifetime. Satellites show us photographs of every square inch of the planet. Webcams are available for a live look at what’s happening in many of our favorite places. People have cured various diseases and can even correct some medical issues while a child is still in the womb. We can do all these things, yet we cannot find this baby and bring him home. This isn’t supposed to happen. Not in this day and age. Not to such a small child. 

The world is filled with knowledge, and we’re accustomed to having unlimited information at our fingertips. Clickety-click-click, and presto! The answer to any burning question appears on the screen. The solution to almost any problem is provided in mere seconds. But, all the clicking in the world couldn’t bring Noah home that night. All their efforts didn’t end with Noah tucked into his bed. And our sadness began to convert to anger.

Hours turned into days. There were no answers. We wanted answers. We needed answers, but there were none to be had. We waited anxiously for each update, and every press conference became more frustrating. Why is this happening? Where is this precious baby? Why can’t our amazing technology find this child? Our fear and our worry grew to a boiling point, and, much like a whistling teapot, people needed to let off some steam. The anger boiled over. 

Strong emotions emerged all around. Noah was no longer a stranger to any of us. He was our baby. This angel became everyone's baby, and we all felt an intense love for him. Everyone wanted this child to be in the warmth of his home, with a full belly and a smile. We all wanted to hear the news that Noah was found and was going home. We’re spoiled. We are used to instant gratification. And, none of us wanted anything more than knowing this child was okay, and we demanded it right this instant. And we couldn’t have that. Every time we heard the news that there was no news, our frustrations mounted and our hope grew dim. Our hearts were heavy, and we collectively shouted. Some shouted in support of those on the ground, and some shouted in anger that such great efforts weren’t working. Both sides were equally passionate. Both sides only wanted Noah to be safe and back at home. 

Frustration, sadness, grief, and anxiety manifest as anger in many. It’s part of the grieving process itself, yet people still seem to have a hard time accepting anger in these situations. I can explain it, because I live it and have lived it for decades. 

You see, sadness and grief are something you must personally experience on a deep level. It consumes us and leads us to a dark place in our psyche that is difficult, sometimes impossible, with which to cope. These emotions affect some of us too deeply, and almost everyone has experienced this stage of grief at some point as they desperately tried to feel anything other than sadness. You get mad, and that’s okay. It’s normal. It’s part of the grieving process. We have all heard this before, but why is anger a display of grief and sadness? I’ll tell you why. A person is not forced to fully experience this emotion. Anger can be displaced and projected, letting a little steam off the boiling teapot and bringing emotions to a level where a person can better cope. 

So, why did things become so heated during the wait for Noah to be found? Why did people lash out and show such anger at a time when people needed support? It’s very simple. Many of them couldn’t cope with what was happening. Tension grew as sadness took hold, and the result was an explosion of rage so powerful that it rivaled a volcanic eruption. And while some will never be able to understand, and some will most certainly think the world is filled with heartless people, know this:

We felt the same thing inside. We felt those same emotions you did. We wanted the outcome to be different, just as you did. We spent sleepless nights checking feeds over and over and hoping for good news, just as you did. We were glued to our feeds every day hoping for the slightest bit of hope, just as you were. When we had no answers and our hearts were so heavy, our emotional displays differed. Some of us aren’t as strong and were forced to revert to anger. I know, because the heartache was too much for me to bear and reverting to anger was the only way to prevent a complete breakdown. 

You see, I don’t simply bounce back from a breakdown. I will often linger in limbo for months, desperately trying to find a reason for living. (That is another story for another day.) While I kept my anger hidden from public view and scrutiny, I vented my anger privately and hoped to maintain my own sanity. As a mother and grandmother, this is the unthinkable thing of nightmares. This is the absolute worst fear. This is the most heartbreaking thing. Words escape me, as I don’t know how to explain just how horrible this is. I know you feel this same intense sorrow. I know you do. And even though we might not express our overwhelming grief in the same manner, we’re all doing the best we can to find a way to cope with this until we can find a way to accept it and make peace with it.

With a Heavy Heart,

Saturday, January 02, 2016

How to love a Tater Tot

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To love a child

Give lots of hugs and kisses: Tater Tot is hugged and kissed all day long. Why else would she hug and kiss everyone when she says goodbye?

Spend time with them: Tater Tot is accustomed to reading books together, playing silly games, and having back and forth 'conversation'. How else would she learn so much? How else would she love so much?

If they're unlovable, love them: Tater Tot gets cranky, and she is smothered with love until she's happy again. Why do you think Tater wants to crawl into your lap when she's in a bad mood?

Be patient: Tater Tot has a sweet little face that commands patience and understanding with no effort. Why do you think she isn't afraid when she has an uh-oh moment?

Encourage them to be themselves: Tater Tot's uniqueness is what makes everyone fall in love with her. Why do you think she is so expressive and bold?

Read books out loud with joy: Tater Tot will bring you her entire collection of books one by one because she is accustomed to being read to multiple times a day. Check out the video on Facebook where Tater reads to Gran. How else would she know how you are supposed to read a book?

Be silly together: Tater Tot has perfected the art of being silly, because she learned from the silly people she calls family. Again, why do you think she is so expressive?

Get outside and play: Tater Tot imitates wind blowing through the trees. She loves to feel the sun on her face and the grass beneath her feet. Why do you think she loves camping and going to the park?

Play dress up: Tater is learning how to dress herself, and I'd say she's pretty close to the dress-up phase.

Let them pick out their own clothes: See above.

Laugh a lot: Tater Tot laughs all day long. She has a hearty laugh that creates laughter. She has made me laugh until I cried many, many times. Why do you think she imitates Gran's laugh?

Have family movie nights: Tater Tot loves to cuddle up and watch movies. We have regular movie nights. How else would she know parts of her favorite movies?

Encourage kindness and generosity: Tater Tot says please and thank you. Tater Tot shares with others. Give Tater something. Anything. She'll respond with 'thank you' almost every time, and she did this when she was just 16 months old. (Set an example, and children learn.)

Remember the little things are the big things: It's the little things Tater Tot does and says that melts hearts. Look over this page and you will see all the little things Tater does and says, because those things are so very precious.

Have fun: Tater Tot has so much fun. So much. Look at all the photos and videos. See that sweet smile?

Tell them how truly special they are:
Tater Tot...well, everyone dotes on Tater. Everyone tells her just how truly amazing she is dozens of times each day.

Tater Tot is blessed with so much love. She is adored. She is the center of attention whenever she enters a room. This precious, sweet child couldn't be more loved. All children should be as blessed as Tater, because love is what nurtures a child's soul. And, that...that is something Tater Tot has plenty of: Love. Yes, Tater has plenty of clothes and toys and books and movies, and this list could go on and on with all the things sweet Tater has. Yes, Tater has more stuff than she has room. (Her toy box Pappy made her 'overfloweth'. She has enough stuff to fill a whole houseful of rooms.) But, she has more love than some children will have in a lifetime. Stuff doesn't matter. It's the love that matters, and as long as there is plenty of room for love...it's okay. We'll find more room for toys later, but for now we're just busy loving her.

If only every child could know the love Tater knows...

Imagine if every child was loved like this. The next generation would be filled with wonderful, compassionate people.

Love your children and grandchildren. Just love them.

Best Wishes,